Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Things We Do for Cyclocross: A Break to DISCuss Brakes

Ahhhhh, cyclocross.  What a sport you are!  I know it's not your season, and I've never raced you, but I hope to now that my shop's name will be on a kit and well, that sort of obligates me, right?  So, I'm sorta new at this, but I know a few things:

I may eat it on the barriers,
though probably not so spectacularly.

I will wish my bike was lighter,
but, y'know, steel is real.

I will probably get muddy.
And when I get muddy, I will probably wish I had more braking power.  What I don't know yet is how far I will go to achieve this.  People have been doing the cyclocross with good ol' cantilevers for years and years, but the times are a-changin'.

A few friends have converted to these mini-V things with success.
They're pretty cheap (and ADORABLE!), so maybe I'll give those a try.
But really, discs brakes seem to be the obvious answer, and since the UCI lifted the ban on discs in sanctioned events, options are growing.

Cable actuated discs make good sense as commonly found models like Avid's Road BB7 work with the short pull of road brake levers and integrated shift/brake levers alike.  One of the first disc cross bikes that really stood out to me was Erik Noren of Peacock Groove's personal "Ace of Spades" bike, which pairs custom painted Campy 11 speed levers with (of course) painted-to-match road BB7's:

I'd used BB7's on both my singlespeed mountain bike and fat bike, so this made sense to me.  The rotor stays out of the wet n' nasty and allows for a higher mechanical advantage.  Cool.  Were I to get a custom bike made or come across a 'cross frame that'd take them, I'd probably do this.

But then I got some Avid Elixirs for my singlespeed MTB and, after I bled them correctly, fell in love with hydros.  And whattayaknow!  After some home-spun rigs, the bike industry's now catering to this niche within a niche market of hydraulic disc brake/road lever solutions:

TRP's Parabox: What would RoboCop Do?

Hope's offering.  Is that a reflector mount?

all of which basically just convert the mechanical pull of your road lever into hydraulic disc POWA!  While these solutions allow for the use of pretty much any lever, they're, well, less than elegant in my opinion.  Looks like I'll just have to wait 'til summer for SRAM's superfancy hydro Red levers.

For some reason that lever makes me think of this:

and I wonder how comfortable it will be, but then I remember that I'm a cheapskate and would never, ever, ever, ever, ever spend Red money on anything so it doesn't matter.

Soooooo, after all this talk, I'll probably be stickin' with good ol' canti brakes this year.  How bad can they be?  Guess I'll find out.

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